In the early 1990s I was travelling in Hampshire with my then boyfriend and we happened to bump into a local Gypsy he knew. We got talking and the man told us about his uncle, who, during the second world war had, in his words, ‘hidden up in the woods. I had just started studying history at university then, and I realised that although I of course knew about the ‘Gypsy camp’ at Auschwitz, I had never given any thought to what Gypsies and Travellers had done in the war in Britain. Two years later and spending a summer on the outskirts of Weymouth, next to a council estate, one day a group of Irish Travellers pulled in, and never had I seen such a frenzy of vilification. Asking myself ‘why?’ was one strand that led to a PhD looking at the history of Gypsies and Travellers in twentieth century Britain; which in turn led to work interviewing Gypsies and Travellers in Norfolk about their health as part of the first nation-wide study of their health in relation to the rest of the population; which in turn led to intermittently visiting residents at Dale Farm in Essex in the years leading up to the 2011 eviction; and then, most recently to being asked to write a general history of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.
A History of Gypsies, Roma and TravellersReaktion Books, 12 Feb 2014
‘Becky Taylor achieves something quite brilliant here’ Annabel Tremlett, Times Higher Education
Travellers in Britain in the twentieth centuryManchester University Press, April 2008
‘clear, balanced and explains and explodes the usual nasty stereotypes. Everyone should read it’, Michelle Hanson, The Guardian
Is Nomadism the ‘problem’? The social construction of Gypsies and Travellers as perpetrators of ‘anti-social’ behaviour in Britain
with Colin Clark in Anti-Social Behaviour in Britain: Victorian and Contemporary Perspectives, Edited by Sarah Pickard, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (publication date: 24 September 2014)
Entitlement, belonging and outsiderness: Britain’s Gypsy Travellers in the twentieth centuryUniversity of Oxford Podcasts 05 Mar 2012